There are many conditions that can cause sleep apnea and snoring. One of these conditions, snoring malocclusion tongue posture, is a muscle disorder that affects the face, specifically the mouth, jaw, and the lips.

It is believed that malocclusion is prevalent in as many as 81 percent of children who display speech problems. It can also affect their sleep by causing a form of sleep apnea.

Many researchers believe it is caused by ill fitting pacifiers and bottle nipples in infancy. It may also be caused by thumb sucking and a forward tongue posture when swallowing. Although orthodontists are divided on the actual cause, they all agree that it can have devastating effects on the child’s health and appearance, and tooth position.

The condition can also affect how the mouth is shaped resulting in the need for orthopedic correction, and in severe cases surgery and braces later in life. It can affect how the child chews their food and how they swallow. This can lead to forms of malnourishment and cause the child to lose interest in eating.

Further it can affect their nasal airways and how they pronounce certain words. Although it is prevalent in childhood, it can go on and affect adults as well if they are not treated for the condition in childhood.

Furthermore, it can affect the elderly. Elderly patients who are lacking in proper dental care may also have forms of the condition, especially if they are overweight.

Left untreated it can lead to many dental issues including oral cavities and other neurological issues which may not be noticeable at first, but over the course of time may cause great distress. It may become difficult to brush the teeth and lead to other medical conditions which can greatly affect the quality of life.

There are many treatments for the condition including bimaxillary advancement surgery to improve airway size by moving the tongue back into the proper position, but in mild conditions, we sometimes can achieve a stable improvement with minimally invasive strategies as seen in this case (fig 1and 2 before and after)

Openbite effecting snoring before treatment close up on teeth.
Openbite effecting snoring before treatment face.
After photo of corrected openbite to aid in snoring relief.

When patients can’t breathe properly through the nose they are forced to open the mouth and breathe through the mouth while sleeping.

It is important to remember that any malformation may also lead to the need for some serious orthodontic work early, even when baby teeth are still present. The severity of the condition can vary greatly between patients and each case will need to be evaluated on a case by case basis.

Before photo of an openbite
Patient with an openbite smilling
Corrected openbite after picture
After picture of a patient with a corrected openbite

Another side effect from the condition is chronic middle ear infections along with sinusitis and allergic rhinitis. Sleep disturbances can lead to a lower immune system and lack of sleep which can in turn cause the patient to fall asleep or be in an altered sleep state at many points during the day. This can be very dangerous for anyone who is operating machinery or driving.

When people breathe through their mouth due to such conditions it can also reduce oxygen which can lead to other medical conditions. Snoring malocclusion tongue posture can be a very dangerous condition and it is important that parents have any child evaluated if they suspect their child may be suffering from any medical condition.